ACLU of Missouri submitted the following comment in opposition to the Secretary of State’s proposed rule 15 CSR 30-200.015:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri joins the Missouri Library Association (MLA) and the Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL) in their opposition to Secretary of State Ashcroft’s proposed rule. Not only does the rule undermine the professional judgement of librarians and other trained education professionals, it also serves to chill speech and the First Amendment rights of Missourians.
We must protect Missourians’ First Amendment rights to access ideas and information. Make no mistake, the threat of refusing state funding is an attempt to coerce censorship. If enacted, the rule would require libraries to enforce the will and arbitrary standard of certain individual parents, guardians, or community members in violation of other parents’ rights. The review process imposed by these restrictions would place an undue burden on libraries and library staff, which are public institutions with already limited budgets.
Our democracy is benefitted when all people, including children, can freely talk and learn about viewpoints of communities different than their own. Books open minds and enrich perspectives. Our communities and democracies are stronger when access to information and ideas are supported.
This proposed rule follows Missouri elected official’s enactment of SB 775, which provoked the unconstitutional removal of books from library shelves throughout the state.
We, as Missourians, should find it unacceptable that state funding is being wielded as a tool to provoke and encourage censorship. The ACLU of Missouri stands with libraries and our librarians.
Proposed Censorship Rule and Comment Period:
Read proposed censorship rule.
Public comments may be mailed to the Office of the Missouri Secretary of State PO Box 1767, Jefferson City, MO 65109 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. To be considered, all comments to the proposed rule must be received during the comment period of November 15, 2022 to December 15, 2022 and must include “15 CSR 30-200.015” in the subject line.
Concerned Missourians may also submit a comment through the Missouri Library Association's website at http://molib.org/advocacy/.